Media law presentation


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Media law presentation

  1. 1. Free Press & Fair Trial
  2. 2. The Fugitive
  3. 3. Sheppard v. MaxwellWhat happened?Consequences Supreme Court holds trial judges strictly responsible for ensuring that a criminal defendant’s rights are not compromised by prejudicial press publicity
  4. 4. “Killer” Sheppard
  5. 5. Estes v. TexasCourt bashes trial judge who let reporters disruptdecorum of courtroom with intrusive cameras and otherrecording devices
  6. 6. Prejudicial Crime ReportingPast criminal behaviorWitness credibilityDefendants characterInflame public moodTest performancesConfessions
  7. 7. To what extent doespublicity prejudice anindividual’s right to a fair trial?
  8. 8. Impact on jurors is an impartial juror? U.S. v. Burr (1807) Murphy v. Florida (1975) Patton v. Yount (1984)One who possesses knowledge of the case can serve onthe jury as long as…
  9. 9. Traditional Judicial Remedies For Publicity There are 5 Remedies. • Voir Daire • Change of Venue • Continuance • Admonition To Jury • Sequestration To Jury
  10. 10. Voir DireProcess by which jurors are examined to ascertain biases thatmight thwart objectivity Challenges for cause Judge has discretion to uphold/deny challenge Unlimited number available to each side Peremptory challenges Judge has no discretion to allow or disallow (though Supreme Court has recently placed limits on their use by attorneys seeking to exclude prospective jurors on the basis of race or gender) Limited number (usually specified in statutes or by court rules) available to parties
  11. 11. Continuance Delay of Trial Theory that a postponement of the trial will allow for some of the hype to die down. In order for a continuance to take place, the defendant has to waive the constitutional right to a speedy trial.Disadvantages: • Court system is already clogged, this could make the trial go on for even longer • The Criminal defendant could spend that added time in jail. • There is no guarantee that once the trial resumes no harmful publicity wont spring back up.
  12. 12. Change of VenueA trial in a state court can be moved to any other forum ofappropriate jurisdiction in that state.A trial in federal court can be moved to any other federal courtelsewhere. Usually a limited number of federal courts sites (often just one other) located in state More advisable to stay as close as possible to the original venue to keep ensure the ease of getting witnesses, presenting evidence and generally keeping expenses down. Yet effectiveness of change improves heavily with distance. Change of Venire men: Instead of relocating to another court site, jurors are simply imported from another locale.
  13. 13. Admonition To JuryJudge may Admonish Jury to: Render their decision based only on what they hear as admissible evidence in court Refrain from watching or reading reports relating to the trial for which they are impaneled Evidence suggests that most jurors actually adhere to these admonitions.
  14. 14. Sequestration of juryPublicity during the trial can often be as threatening to adefendant as pretrial publicity.Pre Trial Publicity: The extra, often times negative attentiongained before a trial gets under way; that could create a biasedopinion for those involved in the trial (jurors, judge). Arguments about admissibility of evidence is usually conducted outside of jury’s hearing, but these may be reported/commented on by the press Other inflammatory info may get reported Judges thus have prerogative of isolating members of the jury to shield them from publicity about the case or to insulate them from other potentially harmful influences.
  15. 15. Sequestration ofJury CONT..Disadvantages: Costly May lead to different types of prejudice- Jurors may blame one side or the other from being kept/isolated from the world.
  16. 16. Restrictive orders to control publicity on court casesSheppard v. Maxwell, 384 U.S. 333 (1966) was a UnitedStates Supreme Court case that examined the rightsof freedom of the press as outlined in the 1stAmendment when weighed against a defendants right toa fair trial as required by the 6th Amendment. Inparticular, the court sought to determine whether or notthe defendant was denied fair trial for the second-degreemurder of his wife, of which he was convicted, because ofthe trial judges failure to protect Sheppard sufficientlyfrom the massive, pervasive, and prejudicial publicity thatattended his prosecution.
  17. 17. Sheppard v. MaxwellAfter suffering a trial court conviction of second-degreemurder for the bludgeoning death of his pregnantwife, Sam Sheppard challenged the verdict as the productof an unfair trial. Sheppard, who maintained his innocenceof the crime, alleged that the trial judge failed to protecthim from the massive, widespread, and prejudicialpublicity that attended his prosecution. On appeal from anOhio district court ruling supporting his claim, the SixthCircuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision. WhenSheppard appealed again, the Supreme Courtgranted certiorari (a review of the case by a higher court).
  18. 18. Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart (1976) Supreme Court of the United States decision in which the Court held unconstitutional prior restraints on media coverage during criminal trials.As a responseto Nebraska Press, courts have resorted to dryingup sources of info for the pressRestrictive orders (gag orders) Designed to stop parties, participants (even the press) from making comments about specific aspects of case
  19. 19. Continued In Nebraska Press Supreme Court did not declare anything with regard to restrictive orders aimed only at participants Continues to be assumed that courts have much broader power to limit what police, attorneys, witnesses and other participants can say about a case out of court
  20. 20. The aftermath of Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart In several cases, courts have ruled that the press may legally challenge gag orders aimed only at attorneys and other trial participants because they infringe with the right to gather news (Connecticut Magazine v. Moraghan) When press is thus given the legal standing to challenge a restrictive order on First Amendment grounds, then trial judge must justify order pursuant of Nebraska Press
  22. 22. Closed proceedings and sealed documents
  23. 23. The American press proudly boasts news coverage of crime, criminals, and trials as its “top stories”Consequentially, tension between the press and the judicial system has gotten worse. Top 3 Reasons Why: Mass media has expanded in recent years. Mass media promotes the broadcast of crime news as “live, local, and late-breaking.” Crime news is discussed on the radio, in newspapers, on social media sites, and has even made its way into prime-time television (ie: First 48, Law and Order) War on Terror: the government’s response to recent terrorist acts and matters of national security has been heightened by the media’s influence. Public’s Infatuation with Hollywood: Let’s face it: we all have invested heavy interest in the lives of celebrities, sports figures, and socialites. Publicity of high profile cases is in high demand
  24. 24. Here’s the issue:Judges are extremely limited when itcomes to blocking the press fromprinting or broadcasting judicialproceedings and documentsNow government officials have begunto limit public and press access to trials,judicial proceedings, and documents….
  25. 25. 1980: US Supreme Court says it is a right undercommon law and the First Amendment in the USconstitution for the public and the press to attenda criminal trial. 1986: “right of access” extended to access of judicial proceedings and records. PublickerIndustiriesv. Cohen- 1984 Civil proceedings are also presumptively open to the public. Right is not absolute, but government must prove that access is beneficial. Trial must serve in important government interest, closing the trial is the ONLY way to serve that interest
  26. 26. Press Enterprise vs.Riverside Superior Court Press-Enterprise Company won two separate Supreme Court cases that established the public’s right to witness specific aspects of criminal court proceedings First case, won in 1984 Press-Enterprise Co vs. Superior Court of California Second case, won in 1986 Press-Enterprise Co. vs. Superior Court of Riverside County, California Does a qualified First Amendment right of public access attach to a preliminary hearing, and under what conditions may the hearing be closed to the public while ensuring a fair balancing of First Amendment and Sixth Amendment guarantees?
  27. 27. Press Enterprise v. Riverside Superior Court (1986) Test Five-prong elements of test Party seeking closure must advance an overriding interest (e.g. right to a fair trial or protection of a witness) that is likely to be harmed if proceeding is open Party seeking closure must demonstrate “substantial probability” this interest will be harmed by openness Trial court must consider reasonable alternatives to closure (voir dire, limited closure during specific testimony) If judge decides on closure it must be narrowly tailored to restrict no more access than is absolutely necessary Trial court must make adequate findings to support closure decision (provides basis for appellate review)
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